Talking Lifting with Jim Wendler

Talking Lifting with Jim Wendler

one of the coolest dudes you’ll meet

Over the weekend some of the crew fly out to the Jersey Shore to hang out and compete in a Tactical Strength Challenge with our friends at The Training Room. As we’re grabbing a bite to eat in a restaurant, none other than the man himself Jim Wendler (creator the 5/3/1 Strength Program) walks up to grab a drink. Being the uber strength/physical culture nerd that I am immediately recognized him and shook his hand, said I was a big fan, and most importantly told him thanks.

At the gym, thanks to our strength guru Meathead, we’ve adopted the 5/3/1 program since the October/November timeframe and every person that has committed to the program has witnessed consistent strength gains across the roof . Click HERE to see what we do

So for about a half hour we able to talk lifting and 5/3/1 with the master himself. I tried to jot down as many notes as I could . Below you’ll see my key take aways:

1) Jim Wendler is one cool sumbitch. He was thrilled to meet his “fans”. He was extremely gracious with us and seemed to enjoy just talking training. His graciousness was only matched by his humor. For those that have read his books and articles you know this already, but he just seems to be one great dude.

2) 5/3/1 is all about taking one step forward each day. Don’t let your ego get in the way. Do your lifts, do them every week and every cycle. Some days you’re gonna be the hammer, some days you’re gonna be the nail. Don’t let that distract you from doing your main lifts. If it’s your heavy week in the cycle (5/3/1) and you’re not feeling like you can set a new rep PR. No worries, get in there and hit your main lifts and get out. Just keep making small steps forward.

3) When Mo was asking him questions about struggling with the deadlift. Jim asked

How long you been lifting?”
Mo replied, “since October
Jim laughed and said “when you’ve lifted for 25 years, then come talk to me about your problems“.

His point was strength training (lifting) is a lifelong pursuit. Similiar to the second point above, there is no quick and easy fix. Just keep taking small steps and stick to the basics. That’s the beauty of the 5/3/1 program. Keep track of your lifts, make the small 10lb jumps each cycle and before you know it, a year has passed and you’ve added 50-100lbs on your lifts.

4) Considering we were going to an event that involved a max deadlift, we asked him advice in regards to figuring out what weight to open up with. His advice was to figure out what weight you wanted to lift on your 3rd attempt. For example if you want to lift 500 on your final attempt,
your 1st lift you should open with 85% of that (425)
2nd lift should be 92.5% of that (463)
3rd attempt obviously 100% (500)

We implemented this strategy at the meet and I must admit it worked pretty damn well. 3 of the 4 of us PR’d on the deadlift. So it’s something to keep in mind. His main point was to open up with something you absolutely know you can get. What’s the point of doing 480-490-then 500? The %s of those jumps are minuscule.

5) Be awesome. Having an impromptu with Wendler was a pretty cool experience. His passion for lifting and helping others was quite evident. He is very clearly a no BS type of dude, he tells it like it is. Mo was asking questions to help with her deadlift and fix the problem with her back rounded. He point blank said, “your legs must be weak, get them stronger”. Brilliant..

In order to get stronger, you must prioritze strength. You can’t be a conditioning freak and expect to be as strong as you possibly can. Additionally, you can’t run around training a dozen different things and expect to get great at all them. You need a program and you gotta stick to the program and must make it a priority.

The favorite quote of the discussion was when I asked a leading question about doing a conditioning workout before a strength workout. He replied;
c’mon dude..that’s common sense…you don’t masturbate before you have sex right?”

Good point Jim…well said.

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